Natasha Trethewey


Adhiti Chundur

Tretheway is a high acheiving poet. Her style combines free verse with more traditional forms of poetry. Her work focuses on race in America.

Harsimran Makkad, Web Editor-in-Chief

“I think there is a poem out there for everyone, to be an entrance into the poetry and a relationship with it.” -2012 interview with PBS NewsHour.

Natasha Trethewey was born in Gulfport, Mississippi to social worker Gwendolyn Ann Tumbough and poet and professor Eric Trethewey. Her parents were of mixed race and divorced when Trethewey was six.

Trethewey studied English at the University of Georgia, earning Master of Arts degree (MA) in English and creative writing from Hollins University. She later received a Master of Fine Arts Degree (MFA) in poetry from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

The poet’s first collection, Domestic Work, written in 2000, won the Cave Canem Prize for first book by an African American poet. The piece explores the lives of the working class, especially African Americans in the South.

Her third book, titled Native Guard, won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize in poetry.

Beyond this, Trethewey has received a Mississippi Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts and was inducted into both the Fellowship of Southern Writers and the Georgia Writers’ Hall of Fame.

She was named the 2008 Georgia Woman of the Year, 2012 Poet Laureate of Mississippi, and the 19th Poet Laureate of the United States. Most recently, Trethewey was the recipient of the 2016 Academy of American Poets Fellowship.

Trethewey is famous for her ability to combine the personal and the historical in her poems.

“[Her] poems plumb personal and national history to meditate on the conundrum of American racial identities.

“Whether writing of her complex family torn by tragic loss, or in diverse imagined voices from the more distant past, Trethewey encourages us to reflect, learn, and experience delight,” said Academy of American Poets chancellor Marilyn Nelson in a judge’s citation.

Currently, she is the Robert W. Woodruff Professor of English and Creative Writing at Emory University.